Crowdsourced Science App to Explore Human Consciousness

CCA

I was recently introduced to a new science-based initiative on Indiegogo that looks pretty exciting. Years of scientific laboratory work have gone into the project that the new app is based upon, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned thus far. The idea of collective consciousness states that there is a real measurable relationship between human consciousness and the tangible world that we live in. This relationship is generally referred to as mind-matter interaction. This new Collective Consciousness app is designed to help us further understand these ideas. Read More →

What Are Your Thoughts on Extra-Sensory Perception?

Molecular Thoughts

Some materialists consider the very mention of extra-sensory perception (ESP) to be evidence that a person has a weak grasp on reality. Those who do believe in it are often offended by such an attitude but cannot find a way of inviting the materialist to speculate about the existence of something that is beyond the usual five senses. Today’s post puts forward the argument that a rationalist method of creating a worldview can accommodate the possibility of ESP without necessarily taking a position that affirms it — something I often try to do with many controversial subjects. Read More →

Awake While Asleep: Lucid Dreaming

Image Credit: webneel.com

Image Credit: webneel.com

For the typical dreamer, a dream is usually a phenomenon that’s only experienced in hindsight. We may be moved to wonderment by the memory of it, but oftentimes we’ve missed out on the actual moment of participation. What’s more, we may already have begun to alter many of the details due to foggy recollection. We’re thus already experiencing a translation of our dream by the time we awaken. Read More →

How Modern Physics Resonates with Ancient Mysticism

Modern Physics

Modern science has always been shadowed by an underlying paradox. Its methods have no basis upon which to define consciousness itself, and yet they are dependent upon human consciousness to provide them with all of the “laws” that they work within the context of. In other words, the scientific method can only assert that various things seem to be true insofar as our own perception goes. This is why new findings are constantly replacing old “truths” in its search for objective certainty. It cannot grapple with what sensory perception actually is (outside of the physical organs that perform it), and yet it must rely upon the evidence provided by the five senses as its only verification of truth. Read More →

Beliefs and Questions About the Paranormal

Heaven

While people of different beliefs from all over the world believe in an afterlife, many of them can’t seem to agree with each other or accept views other than their own. Yet, men have talked about the supernatural since the beginning of time. Recently, authors like Bill Guggenheim, Dr. Raymond Moody, and Dr. Eben Alexander have written books that explore the existence of the consciousness after death. Read More →

Mind Over Evolution: An Alternative Vision of Humanity

consciousness

Part of the reason why fierce debates rage around the origins of man – in the conflicts between Creationism and Darwinism that we see within many schools, for example – is because our beliefs about where we came from can strongly influence our sense of identity and our feelings of self-worth. It’s impossible to separate our self-image from our life philosophies in that regard. The stories we cling to will paint our inner pictures of who we are, where we come from and what our race can achieve.

Unfortunately, the stories that we’ve inherited in our culture paint a fairly unflattering picture that does little to inspire us to discover and express our true potential in this world.

Science spins its own version of reality. If you believe that the sky is blue because of the chemical composition of the gases that exist up there, and the way that light refracts off of them, then that’s all you’ll ever see. You won’t perceive the unfathomable mystery of it all. What is the true nature of light, or gases, or the color blue? Questions like these are beyond our ken. The theory of evolution teaches us that it’s useless to ask such questions anyhow, though. This theory, which forms the backbone of so much scientific thought and of our very definitions of humanity, maintains that matter came first and consciousness emerged later – almost as an afterthought; and certainly by accident.

consciousness (1)What if the mind formed matter? What if consciousness preceded everything else, and created form? Our scientific indoctrination has convinced us that reality works the other way around, but we’ve been offered little actual proof of this. What is obvious, however, is that the belief that consciousness always comes first would do much more to uphold the beauty, grace and potential of our natures than does the belief that our existence was the random result of accidental evolution.

We would do well to adopt stories that inspire us and offer us a new vision of what humanity can aspire to. When trying to grasp the nature of our reality as human beings, and drawing upon the resources that civilization offers us, we’ve thus far been essentially left with a choice between atonement (the predominant religious thinking of the West), accepting that the world we exist in is illusory (the predominant religious thinking of the East), or the theory of evolution. Typically, we are never taught or encouraged to believe that we are, ourselves, divine.

None of the arguments that uphold a notion of a barren and sterile universe can hold water. Most children know better than to believe in those wet-blanket descriptions of reality. Sadly, though, they eventually learn to accept them. How could they not, when our cultural beliefs make their survival virtually dependent upon it?

Love has to come from somewhere. But within the world’s established religions, love always has its conditions; and within the world of science, love can be explained away in terms of neurological transmissions and chemical interactions. It seems that our race, by and large, is willing to accept practically any belief except for one that maintains that what we are is something miraculous.

Most scientists or religious scholars would dispute that we are miraculous, by virtue of being conscious beings. Could it be that consciousness came first; that we did not become humans by accident? What if consciousness created our world in order to express all that it is, and to become better acquainted with itself? If this is true, how might it change the idea that consciousness will arise in machines once we’ve reverse-engineered the brain?

The Joys that Dogs Can Bring to Our Lives

A strong and unspoken bond has existed between human beings and dogs for centuries. Even prehistoric man considered dogs to be ideal companions, a fact that is attested by numerous cave paintings and ancient remains. What is it about these animals that brings comfort to our hearts and spontaneous fun into our lives? No doubt there are many factors that contribute to our enduring relationship with them, but most of them are connected with the way that dogs, if treated with love, will reflect that love back to us unconditionally.

The bonds that we form with our canine friends can connect us to a whole world of experience that we otherwise might miss out on in our fast-paced and highly technological society. When a dog stops along a woodland path to investigate a scent or sound, then our attention is drawn there as well. Such experiences bring us in touch with the movements and rhythms of nature, which otherwise can escape our notice in our daily lives. Dogs bring a piece of the wilderness into our homes, and remind us of where we came from.

In effect, they bring nature back into our lives. Their response in the moment is immediate, complete and uninhibited – regardless of the situation. They aren’t burdened with the kind of self-consciousness and reflection that can sap so much of the energy and joy out of our lives. Spending time with dogs, we can begin to tap into that sense of spontaneity and abandon ourselves. Dogs may shy away from certain people or experiences, or react with fear or aggression, but they don’t judge. Once they make up their minds to love us, it will take quite a lot for us to fall out of favor with them.

Because they are so uninhibited, dogs can be ideal icebreakers in our social world. We may feel the impulse to approach someone and then consider a dozen reasons why we shouldn’t, but our canine friends have no such scruples. They express their interest in other people as freely as they express everything else. As a consequence of this, we may suddenly find ourselves engaging in a conversation with a nice and attractive fellow dog-walker in the park. Believe it or not, many an entangled leash has led to a first date or new friendship. Dogs not only can initiate conversation with their very presence, but also give us plenty of things to talk about with people who might otherwise remain strangers.

The connection that exists between dogs and their owners is very old, instinctive, and unconditional. It is also uncomplicated, which can be a very heartwarming thing in this oft-times confused and troubled age. Dogs are present with their feelings and needs in ways that we are oftentimes afraid to be. We can learn a lot from them in that regard, and they’re likely to be patient and forgiving teachers. The effort that they demand from us in terms of feeding, exercise, and attention they repay many times over with loyalty, affection, and sheer enthusiasm for our presence in their lives.

Our Pups:

The Sources of Violence and Conflict Within Us

By and large, humanity has forgotten the relationship between thoughts and reality. The world that we experience is the reflection of what we carry inside us. Mystics, sages and shamans throughout the ages have tried to remind us of this fact. Western culture has largely turned its back upon such notions, however. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve increasingly viewed the world as something separate from ourselves, and thus not responsive to our inner life – something to be manipulated, tamed and conquered. Within the reality painted by such beliefs, thoughts appear to have no influence; and violence seems like power.

When we’re involved in a conflict, it is because something has touched upon an internal wound and/or we’re trying to draw energy from those around us in some way. You could apply this to personal strife as well as to larger global conflicts. Both of these stances are fueled by one underlying assumption: That we do not create our reality for ourselves, but are rather at the mercy of an exterior world separate from us.

The acknowledgment of our personal power to create reality is the key to all forms of healing and problem solving; and the misunderstanding of it is the source of all our problems and sufferings, both individually and collectively. When a country wages war upon another for the sake of resources, it is because of an underlying conviction that abundance is not really created from within. Conflict is always fueled by our ignorance of our own divinely creative natures.

This can be an empowering truth. The next time you feel overwhelmed and insignificant in the face of wars and other predicaments on a mass scale, remind yourself that this world is the mirror of your inner condition. You can then take personal responsibility, explore that inner reality, and see where you are contributing to the light and where you are creating darkness. There is no God to thank or Devil to blame. Tracing everything in our life experience back to their sources within us empowers us to direct our lives in the most positive and expansive way. It also implies that all of our conflicts and dilemmas, collectively, can be conquered with the knowledge and application of our true creative power.

No militaries would exist anywhere in the world if we did not carry the seeds of violence within ourselves. Ages ago, the use of force to settle conflicts was inspired by deep fear within our race. Some of that fear persists today, and is projected upon foreign lands that are then proclaimed our enemies. But much of the persistence of war – of the veritable addiction to violence that afflicts so many people in this world – can be attributed to an underlying sense of powerlessness.

From the standpoint of our separation from our deeper selves, hate seems more powerful than love; and war seems more effective than compassion and understanding. If we don’t understand and feel the connection between our thoughts and our outer experiences, then it seems to us that manipulating the physical environment is the only way to achieve goals and create change. In that arena, so much of the true thrust of love and consciousness becomes invisible. It seems so ineffective alongside a bomb or a machine gun. In reality, it is so much more powerful. Human consciousness created bombs and machine guns in the first place, long before human hands invented them.

Reference:

Pearson DG, Ross FD, & Webster VL (2012). The importance of context: evidence that contextual representations increase intrusive memories. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 43 (1), 573-80 PMID: 21867664

Grof, S. (1996). Consciousness evolution and planetary survival: Psychological roots of Human violence and greed World Futures, 47 (4), 243-262 DOI: 10.1080/02604027.1996.9972599

ResearchBlogging.org

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) involves a core group of physical symptoms along with frequent and uncontrollable worries that are often irrationally intense. It can be difficult to diagnose GAD, as its severity and nature may dramatically vary from person to person. However, the following eleven symptoms are the most common, so if you experience two or more of these in a short period of time, then you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss how to improve your quality of life by managing your anxiety more effectively.

  1. Restlessness and concentration problems:
 If you have GAD, you probably fidget quite often and find it hard to sit still for long periods. You may feel on edge, as though you cannot relax even when you are in a safe environment. In addition, concentration problems are common. It might be tough for you to focus on studying or working, and your short-term memory may be worse than it used to be.
  2. A sense of impending doom:
 Most sufferers of GAD regularly experience a crushing and acute sense that something bad is about to happen. This feeling is baseless, but it can crop up in perfectly normal circumstances. When it does, you will suddenly feel as though you are about to die (or about to be in some form of life-threatening danger).
  3. Experiencing fear before or during social events:
 While going out to dinner or attending a party should be an exciting and fun event, you might find that such invitations fill you with dread rather than pleasure. GAD sufferers commonly find that they are disproportionately concerned about how to dress, what to say, and how to act in social groups. Additionally, even if you are being treated with kindness and respect during a social outing, you may still experience an increased heart rate, sweaty hands, and the desire to leave as soon as possible.
  4. Feeling out of touch with reality:
 This symptom is sometimes called depersonalization, and it tends to make you feel as though you are in a waking dream. You may also experience dizziness and feel as though you are moving at a slightly different speed to everyone else.
  5. Irritability and impatience:
 You might snap at other people without thinking, and will probably find that you easily become annoyed by unexpected slowness. Most people with GAD also respond defensively when questioned about their anxiety, knowing that they have irrationally intense fears but feeling extremely embarrassed that an outsider has recognized this.
  6. Obsessing about physical sensations:
 Although GAD does not have to be associated with any particular phobias, sufferers are often hypochondriacs. This means that they live in a constant state of fear that something is wrong with their bodies. You might interpret every ache or pain as a symptom of cancer, or you may habitually check yourself for signs that you are having a stroke. This obsession with physical sensations can be especially difficult to live with, as it can create an unproductive loop. Unusual sensations cause feelings of anxiety, but suffering from anxiety can cause unusual sensations (therefore creating even more anxiety).
  7. Heart palpitations:
 Anxiety problems are often connected to a fast or irregular heartbeat. Even when your pulse rate is normal, you might notice that you are uncommonly aware of your own heart beating. However, it is important to note that you should always have a racing or irregular heartbeat investigated thoroughly (in order to make sure that you do not have a potentially dangerous heart condition).
  8. Excessive sweating:
 GAD is connected to frequent and uncomfortable episodes of sweating. These are usually accompanied by racing heart or particularly strong worries about your own well-being (whether social or physical).
  9. Stomach aches and diarrhea:
 Being constantly or frequently anxious can easily leave you with a malfunctioning digestive system. As a result, those who have GAD commonly experience intestinal cramping and loose stools.
  10. Being scared that you are being negatively evaluated:
 GAD sufferers often experience acute anxiety at the thought of making a fool of themselves in public, and so social situations are regularly perceived as dangerous chances to be ridiculed. You might even find that you feel uncomfortable just walking down the street, worrying that strangers you encounter are thinking that you are unattractive or poorly dressed.
  11. Poor quality of sleep:
 Finally, insomnia is a common symptom of GAD. In addition to have trouble sleeping, you might feel unrested even after a full eight hours of sleep.

Suffering from general anxiety disorder can be very upsetting and confusing, as it often involves periods of intense anxiety during which the cause is not readily identifiable. If you suspect that you might have an anxiety problem, see your doctor as soon as possible. You may be worried that you’ll be viewed as being over-dramatic, but you shouldn’t be. Doctors regularly see and treat people with anxiety issues. Your feelings and concerns will be extremely familiar to your doctor, and they will put you on the path towards managing your anxiety more effectively (using medication, therapy, or a combination of both).

Reference:

Dupuy, J., & Ladouceur, R. (2008). Cognitive processes of generalized anxiety disorder in comorbid generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 22 (3), 505-514 DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2007.05.010

Barrera, T., & Norton, P. (2009). Quality of life impairment in generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23 (8), 1086-1090 DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.07.011

Lawrence, A., & Brown, T. (2009). Differentiating Generalized Anxiety Disorder From Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 197 (12), 879-886 DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181c29992

Additional Learning Resources:

ResearchBlogging.org

Carl Jung’s Archetypes

Carl Jung (1875–1961)

One of Carl Jung’s most compelling and unique contributions to the understanding of human psychology was his idea of the collective unconscious and the archetypes within it. It was through this insight that Jung made the ancient and archaic relevant to the world of today. The collective psychological experiences of humanity were suddenly seen as impacting and shaping the way every human being saw the world.

In order to understand archetypes we must understand the nature and function of the collective unconscious. According to Jung, the collective unconscious is not like the personal unconscious as first introduced by psychoanalysis. It is detached from the personal unconscious because it belongs to the human species as a whole. It is inherited, just as physical aspects of our bodies are inherited. Because of this, a human being does not enter the world as a blank slate but rather with the innate and inherited tendencies of the collective unconscious. These tendencies are what Jung termed “archetypes.”

The word “archetype” can be defined as a model, a prototype, something which serves as a pattern for other things. Jung’s usage of the term meant much the same thing. He envisioned archetypes as enduring patterns and models within the collective unconscious which act as a matrix through which the world is experienced. It is helpful to liken archetypes to instincts. Instincts result in the “fight or flight” reaction in response to startling stimuli just as archetypes of the feminine and masculine help us to organize and divide the world. Both of these processes happen at an unconscious level, the difference being that Jung saw instincts as physical and archetypes as psychological/psychical.

There are many archetypes, perhaps even in infinite number of them. However, there are a few that seem to stand out for encompassing much of our experience and for their presence in almost all cultures throughout the world. Two of these are the already mentioned masculine and feminine images. The archetype of the hero is also one that is common to almost all people. Though everyone might have slightly different image of what makes a hero, it is generally embodied in the person who struggles, fights, and wins against adversity.

The most important archetype in Jung’s psychology was what he termed “the self.” The self is the ideal form of a person. It is the whole and complete personality, the integration of a person’s conscious and unconscious life. Jung thought that most people could not properly relate to the self because their weak and fragmented egos could not handle it. For this reason, the archetype of the self is usually seen as something other than oneself. It is projected into the world in the forms of gods and saviors. These god and savior figures represent the whole, complete, and perfect image of the self.

There are many forms which archetypes can take. Close friends, warriors, politicians, or brilliant scientists can all be images of the hero to different people. The self is not necessarily only projected onto gods and saviors, but onto anyone who is perceived to be a whole and integrated person, such as a strong leader. Though the images of archetypes may vary in the real world, what they have in common is that they are all influenced, shaped, and filtered by the dynamic, archetypal patterns found in the collective unconscious of humanity.